I rarely write articles, and in general I am not an active social media user. However, I almost felt compelled to share some thoughts about my work as an international headhunter after receiving heartfelt feedback from some of my clients.
My principal focus is to support Italian companies with branches in the US to fill middle and top management positions.
What I have noticed during my 3-year career at YER USA is that, no matter what industry or how large my client is, the dynamics are the same. My Italian clients, most of the time feel that they are not listened to by American headhunters. They feel they do not understand their needs.
For this reason, I always try to go beyond the job description to uncover hidden needs. The key is to LISTEN to them by asking questions, lots of questions! Like in the Jerry Maguire mission statement scene: “The key to this business is personal relationships”. Easier said than done, you might say. And you are right! It takes time to build trust.
Cultural Fit and Expectations.
Around 95% of the candidates I place are Americans, and the hard fact is that a real disconnect can occur between my clients and the candidates they look for.
In my opinion, American-born headhunters would not understand what to look for in a candidate or how to best manage the candidate. There are also unique client expectations that are often not communicated even after presenting a short list. This is something you must innately understand from a cultural perspective. Believe me, if you think it is an easy task to manage a candidate for a role in an Italian company, then you will be disappointed to find out how tricky it really can be!
I have now been living in the US for 13 years and have worked in both Italian and American companies. I believe I know the two cultures very well, what to ask a client and what to look for in a candidate. What I absolutely love about my job is when my clients and candidates share confidential information with me. It represents a turning point when I know I have gained their trust, and it now becomes critical not to let them down.
Interact and Build Trust.
My goal is to build proprietary relationships with my clients which takes a considerable amount of time. You need to make extra time precisely for relationship building. My clients are investing time and money in hiring and training the candidates I present. And my candidates are taking precious time to talk and interview with me, so I want to make sure they feel valued.
It is imperative to put both clients and candidates first above anything else in the selection process. Jerry Maguire strongly points out that we tend to focus too much on speed and money rather than focusing on the people we interact with.
Focusing on people’s unique needs is what I try to achieve in my job. Fortunately, unlike the famous line in the movie, fewer clients does not always mean less money!